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Study: Hundreds of North American Bee Species Headed Toward Extinction

More than 700 species of bees in North America are at risk due to habitat loss, pesticide use and other factors, an environmental advocacy group said this week.

More than 700 species of bees in North America are at risk due to habitat loss, pesticide use and other factors, an environmental advocacy group said this week.

The Center for Biological Diversity said that its analysis was the first comprehensive review of the 4,337 species of bees native to North America and Hawaii. The group said that of the 1,437 species with a sufficient amount of available data, 749 are declining and 347 are "imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction."

The review included 316 species whose conservation status was established by federal, state or independent research, as well as 1,121 species with other literature available.

Many of the 2,900 species without sufficient data are also likely on the decline, researchers said.

"It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming," said study author Kelsey Kopec.

The report joins numerous other studies analyzing the decline in pollinators, particularly the European honeybee.

Many studies suggested that the use of pesticides β€” especially the class known as neonicotinoids β€” could be impacting bee populations, but agrichemical companies argued that the science remains inconclusive.

Pollinators worldwide could also be at risk due to habitat or climate changes, increasing urbanization, parasites or disease.

Government estimates suggested that bees contribute more than $15 billion to the country's agricultural economy each year. CBD officials said that North American species, which are generally solitary and nest underground, add $3 billion in pollination and help maintain ecological stability by pollinating wild plants.

β€œWe’re on the verge of losing hundreds of native bee species in the United States if we don’t act to save them,” Kopec said.

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